The benefits of admitting that you don't know
From an article by Behaviorial Scientist
Dr Tenelle Porter of the department of Human Development at the University of California set out to test whether intellectual humility was associated with learning outcomes.
Intellectual humility is shown when you recognise the limits of your knowledge and value the insight of someone else. When someone presents evidence that your understanding is wrong and you accept this.
On the face of it, university professors, some of the most learned individuals in the world, are not generally known for their intellectual humility. And plenty of successful scientists, CEOs, doctors, artists, and political leaders master their trades without appearing to develop much intellectual humility.
So how much is intellectual humility associated with learning outcomes?
Dr Porter started by measuring high school students’ intellectual humility. They had students rate themselves on statements like “I am willing to admit it when I don’t know something” and “I acknowledge when someone knows more than me about a subject.” They wanted to know: Would this self-reported intellectual humility relate to students’ motivation to learn, their learning strategies, and even their grades? What’s more, would teachers observe any differences between students with differing levels of intellectual humility?
They found that the more intellectually humble students were more motivated to learn and more likely to use effective strategies, like quizzing themselves to check their own understanding. They also ended the year with higher grades in math. They also found that the teachers, who hadn’t seen students’ intellectual humility questionnaires, rated the more intellectually humble students as more engaged in learning.
More experiments illustrated that intellectual humility is associated with a host of outcomes that are important for learning in school, and they suggest that boosting intellectual humility may have benefits for learning.
Therefore how does one foster it?
Their hypothesis was that adopting a growth mindset could help. Growth mindset is the belief that intelligence is something that can change over time. In contrast, fixed mindset is the belief that intelligence is permanent, something people are “born with.”
It makes logical sense that intellectual humility would come more easily to those operating in a growth mindset. When people adopt a growth mindset, they tend to believe that even if they don’t know something, they can learn it and improve their intelligence. They believe they can get smarter, and being humble is one strategy for doing that.
Dr Porter ran an experiment which proved a link between growth mindset and intellectual humility. There is reason to think intellectual humility may help people learn above and beyond the benefits of growth mindset. For example, it may increase openness to learning from the opposing view during disagreements, and decrease dogmatism in ways that a growth mindset may not.
We all might be a bit better off by admitting we don't know and value the insight of someone else.
Read the full article here.
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